Business fire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BPD officer drops citations written to business owner

By Billy Davis

A Batesville police officer who ticketed business owner Ronnie Hinton last Friday after he drove over a pair of fire hoses in front of his automotive shop has withdrawn the tickets after learning Hinton was the shop’s owner.

Hinton admitted he absentmindedly drove over the fire hoses when he arrived at Hinton’s Rides and Rods, where a mid-morning fire destroyed a work bay and a 1968 Corvette, and damaged much of the shop and office with smoke and ash.

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BPD Deputy Chief Don Province confirmed Monday that Hinton was ticketed. He cited a state code under Mississippi law that punishes a driver for driving over fire hoses that are in use.

Later on Monday, Province told The Panolian that Patrolman Greg Jones decided to sign paperwork recommending that the tickets be dismissed. A city court judge must decide to allow that, he said.
Province said Jones was “not comfortable” with writing the tickets after realizing he had ticketed the panicking business owner.

“I was panicking because my shop was on fire. Anybody would have done the same thing,” said Hinton, who owns the auto shop at 543 Highway 6 West with son Brandon.

 No one was hurt in the fire. An employee and a family pet, a miniature dachshund, were in the front office when the fire broke out.

Hinton said he was in Memphis when he learned of the fire. After calling the Miss. Department of Transportation, he used the safety lane of Interstate 55 to rush to the scene in west Batesville.  

Brandon Hinton said his father has a history of heart problems so he was taken from the auto shop to Tri-Lakes Medical Center, where he stayed for two days, as a precaution.

According to Ronnie Hinton, he was told the police officer mistook him for a spectator at the scene and regretted the incident.

Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor, who was on the scene of the fire, said Monday he did not see Hinton drive over the fire hoses.

After discussing the ticket writing with a reporter, Taylor said he was remaining neutral about the incident.  

“We put out fires and the policemen write the tickets,” Taylor said. “I hate that a man’s business caught on fire,” he said, adding, however, that he did not want to “second guess” the police officer.

Brandon Hinton said the shop fire began in the engine compartment of a ’68 Corvette that had been repaired the day before. The car, valued at $38,000, was completely destroyed, he said.

The Panolian reported on-line last Friday that the shop fire also damaged a ’57 Corvette owned by Danny Holland of Batesville.

Holland said he was across the highway in his office, at 520 Highway 6 West, when he noticed sirens and lights, and believed there was an automobile accident.

Hinton said Monday that Holland’s Corvette is valued at $90,000.

Hinton said he operates a paint shop and mechanic’s shop in the four-bay business that he co-owns with his father. The fire destroyed painting equipment valued at $15,000 as well as other shop tools, he said.

The son said his father maintained insurance on the building and its contents.